ST. GEORGE — For over three decades, the Rhino Rally has challenged dirt bike riders young and old with tests of endurance across rugged terrain in the desert, and on Saturday the time-honored tradition continued during the 37th incarnation of the event organized by the Wizards Motorcycle Club brought hundreds of participants to Southern Utah to run the gauntlet of challenging off-road courses.
A few miles south of Washington City, motocross riders filled their tanks, prepped their bikes and geared up for the ride. This year, the courses traversed through a wide variety of terrain in the Warner Valley area, passing over the border between Utah and Arizona.
Nearly 300 riders took to the starting line for the “Big Bike Race” portion of the event, which consisted of a a desert course amid a small crowd of spectators, mostly family and friends of the riders, who were gathered along the edge of the race to cheer on the novice, amateur and expert waves of participants as they took off and quickly disappeared into the desert terrain.
There are two additional categories for riders in the Rhino Rally: The “Mini Bikes,” which is a 15-mile loop, and two “Pee Wees” races – a 30-minute race and a 20-minute race on a small track for kids.
For the expert and amateur racers, there are two loops – one at 45 miles and one at 23 miles – to challenge the motorcyclists, while the novices stick to just the 45-mile loop. Normally, the first loop contains the easiest terrain so that the less-experienced novice riders don’t have to face the more challenging, technical sections.
The Wizards Motorcycle Club is the driving force behind the event, with members volunteering time and effort out of love for the sport and the racing community.
While there was a decent sized crowd at the rally, this event is not a spectator sport. Rider registration typically fills up quickly as the event continues to grow in popularity.
More than 20 members of the Dixie Amateur Radio Club were also at the event, as they have been for years, working behind the scenes to provide vital communications services throughout the remote area in the event that a rider is injured or in need of medical care, or to coordinate rescue or emergency efforts during the races.
When it comes to where the race got its quirky name, the details of the event’s origins have been lost to time but it is believed the original founders of the Rhino Rally named it after a speedway race in a foreign country, Scott Snow, a Wizards MC said in previous interview.
“It has to do with a particular race that they did in Africa,” Snow said. “I don’t think many of us know that; I’m probably one of the few that knows that answer,” he said in 2016.
The event closed with an awards ceremony that was held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Factory Power Sports at 1685 E. Red Hills Parkway in St. George, complete with drawings and prizes for the participants.
Josh Knight was the overall winner in the “Big Bikes” division; Ridge Broadhead was the overall winner of “Mini Bikes” division and Taeson Smith was the overall winner of the “Pee Wee” division.
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